The risk of illness and accidents increases with age. The body gradually becomes less resilient. Someone may no longer be unable to live independently after having a fall or a stroke. Older people and their families need to recognise that care might be needed at some point. It is important to plan ahead: any solution should reflect the individual's needs, but also has to be affordable.
Old age isn't all bad: we're wiser and more content, and we finally have the time to enjoy life. A lot of older people are in good health and lead a busy, active life. They travel the world, drive, take part in sports and are members of clubs. But this carefree period can come to an abrupt halt: a fall in the bathtub, stroke or diagnosis of an incurable illness can dramatically change an older person's life overnight. Such an event also affects the people closest to them. Providing support to someone in need of care saps their energy and can put them under mental strain. There's also the question of how to fund care – something that's better addressed sooner rather than later.
It's important to think ahead
Switzerland has more and more older people, and our life expectancy is increasing. This trend is resulting in a constant rise in care costs. So it makes a lot of sense to sit down with your parents as soon as you can and discuss what would happen should they unexpectedly need care. It's important for you to be clear about their wishes and expectations, because that's the only way to plan the funding of care. Remember that your parents will need to pay for their own home help, medical aids and support at home (e.g. transportation or someone to accompany them on walks).
Should they have a stay in a nursing home, all accommodation, meals and support will need to be paid for by your parents. If one of your parents continues to live at home while the other moves into a nursing home, the other living costs such as rent must be added to the cost of staying in the home. The total amount of money can soon go through the roof.
Who pays the care costs?
Funding long-term care comes from three main sources: health insurance contributions, social-security contributions and – where permitted by the financial status of the person in need of care – individual contributions.
Subject to certain conditions, your parents can apply for helplessness allowances, additional AHV benefits and, if necessary, social assistance.
The most secure funding option for suitable healthcare provision in old age is adequate insurance cover. It's worth sorting this out early on.
Funding "care at home"
Outpatient care costs vary widely. This example shows the nursing costs for an older person who is cared for at home by Spitex as well as by his or her relatives.
Funding "care in a nursing home"
This example shows the costs for an older person who is cared for round the clock in a nursing home.